The First World War: A Complete History
Martin Gilbert (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1994)
Gilbert’s output on 20th century history, notably on those parts of it that revolve around Winston Churchill, is truly astounding. He never fails to tell a good story and is especially good at emphasizing the heroic aspects of the fighting and in relaying the suffering endured by so many. However, he does tend to get lost in the weeds, and it is often difficult to follow the story line. His technique of moving back in forth within one chapter to relate all that was going on in different fronts and on sea and in the air makes for fun reading but more difficult comprehension. Gilbert cannot refrain from putting his enormous erudition to use by adding interesting, but distracting, vignettes on events prior to and subsequent upon the actual war and throwing in poetry and prose recollections from the participants. Unlike Keegan, for example, Gilbert’s self-drawn maps help to elucidate the narrative.